Tennessee Chamber Update: Is a monthly newsletter distributed in place of the weekly Capitol Update which is produced when the legislature is in session. 
TN Chamber Update                 September 2017
Quick Links - News
UPCOMING EVENTS:
September 20

September 27-29
Memphis

October 2-6 Manufacturing Week

October 6, 2017
National #MFGDAY

October 16
TN Chamber Golf Tournament sponsored by FedEx

October 23 - 24

November 8 

Visit tnchamber.org for more information; To register - Click 'Events' & select training/conference
 date on calendar.
TN Commissioner of Education  Dr. Candice McQueen speaks to attendees at the Chamber's Workforce Development and Education Conference in Nashville on August 30th. 
U.S. Senator Bob Corker Discusses D.C.'s Challenges and Opportunities with Top Tennessee Businesses at Event with Mars Petcare and TN Chamber 

In August, Tennessee business leaders came together at Mars Petcare's Global Innovation Center to welcome U.S. Senator Bob Corker. Organized by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, industry leaders and local dignitaries heard from Senator Corker on many issues important to business. 
 
Senator Corker addressed a range of issues critical to business, providing his insight on global partnerships, trade issues and tax reform.  "There is nothing more important than ensuring heads of households across Tennessee have good paying jobs, and I am proud to represent a state that places an emphasis on recruiting and retaining first class companies like the ones we met with today," said Corker. "I will always be a businessman at heart, and it was energizing to be with these business leaders and discuss issues that affect their operations and our communities each and every day. MARS Petcare is one of the Nashville-area's largest employers, and I thank them, as well as the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, for hosting this outstanding event."
 
Mars, the event host, has a substantial footprint in the state with more than 2,600 associates, which includes Mars Petcare, one of the Nashville-area's largest employers. Mars' presence in Tennessee also includes Banfield and Blue Pearl, both part of the Mars Veterinary portfolio, a Royal Canin pet food factory in Lebanon and two Mars Wrigley Confectionary production facilities in Cleveland and Chattanooga.

TN Chamber Convenes First-Ever Workforce Development & Education Conference; State's Top Advocates and Policy Leaders Address Sold-Out Crowd

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry convened its first-ever conference on education and workforce development issues on August 30th at the Doubletree Hotel in Nashville.  The conference attracted record crowds, with tickets selling out weeks before the conference.   Attendees heard from a diverse array of local education innovators, community workforce organizers, local chamber executives, state policy leaders, technical education experts, and the like.  The morning programming featured a series of presentations highlighting how rural, suburban, and urban business communities across the state are facilitating stronger partnerships and greater direct collaboration between manufacturers and local community college and technical college institutions to equip both graduating high school students and adult workers with career-ready skills.  Attendees also heard keynote presentations from Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen, TN Higher Education Commission Assistant Director Lou Hanemann, and a policy roundtable with the State House and Senate Education Committee chairs, the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the workforce director for the state's Department of Economic and Community Development.  The day's programming concluded with a candid discussion on role and different types of industry certifications offered by our state's colleges and a policy update from the Chamber's education partner organizations.   The Chamber has been encouraged by the feedback we have received from attendees, and we look forward to redoubling our efforts in the education and workforce development space ahead of next year's legislative session.  

*If you attended the conference and would like to obtain a copy of one of the presentations, please email  ted.boyatt@tnchamber.org .
Rutherford Chamber President named Executive of the Year at Annual TCCE Conference; TN Chamber Provides Informational Electoral Debrief  

Rutherford County President Paul Latture has been named the 2017 Executive of the Year.
 
The annual award is presented by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives at their annual conference. This year's was held August 23-25, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Katy Riddle said in a release.
 
"Latture's impact on the community has been significant," Riddle said. "In addition, he created an emphasis on workforce development, which has gained local, regional and national attention."  The Chamber has added more than 12,000 jobs and a capital expenditure of more than $1.7 billion under Latture.  He has helmed the Rutherford Chamber since 2009 after serving as president and chief executive officer of the Jackson Area Chamber.
 
Also at the TCCE Annual Conference, the Tennessee Chamber provided attendees with an update on the evolving status of the 2018 elections, noting the hotly-contested gubernatorial race and the high number of announced vacancies in the state legislature. 

Pictured on Left : TCCE President and Blount Partnership CEO Bryan Daniels and TN Chamber VP of Events Suzie Lusk present Rutherford Chamber President Paul Latture with the 2017 Executive of the Year Award.  Pictured on  Right : Ted Boyatt gives TCCE attendees an update on the 2018 elections.

Analysis: Past Business Tax Cuts Have Produced Big Stock Market Gains
 
While uncertainty looms regarding the prospects for federal tax relief, there appears to be plenty of resolve in Washington to enact cuts before the 2018 election.  What has happened when the federal government has cut taxes in the past? According to analysis done by financial analyst and financial radio personality Moe Ansari, corporate tax cuts enacted over the past century have spurred significant growth in the markets.  According to Ansari, the federal government has cut corporate taxes only five times since 1928.  Here are the five major corporate tax cuts of the past 90 years, followed by the resulting growth in the stock market:
  • 1928: 2% tax cut = S&P or "Composite Index" up 31% the following 12 months.
  • 1945: 2% tax cut = S&P up 8% the following 12 months.
  • 1964: 4% tax cut = S&P up 12% the following 12 months.
  • 1978: 2% tax cut = S&P up 11% the following 12 months.
  • 1986: 12% tax cut = S&P up 31% the following 12 months.

  
U.S. Chamber Survey of State Lawsuit Climates Shows Tennessee a Leader in the Southeast; Reforms Still Needed to Increase State's Competitive Posture   

In a new survey released by the U.S. Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, Tennessee ranked 30th on a national state-by-state comparison of laws and regulations governing lawsuit filings.  That ranking makes Tennessee a regional leader in the southeast, topping every surrounding state with the exception of Virginia.   Tennessee in recent years has stepped up its efforts to curb frivolous lawsuits and eliminate legal avenues for would-be plaintiffs to undertake so-called "jackpot justice" schemes against businesses and employers.  In 2011, the state passed a landmark tort reform law that set stringent non-economic damage caps for civil judgements.  While such moves have helped make Tennessee a regional leader, further reforms could be pursued that would help vault it into the top half of states in the nation.  Of note, the survey also found that 85 percent of senior business executives at major U.S. companies say a state's lawsuit environment is likely to impact decisions about where to locate or expand their business.

Tennessee Air Quality Improves due to Business Efforts
In a news release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the entire state of Tennessee is now said to be in compliance with federal air quality health standards for particle pollution, also known as particulate matter or PM2.5.
 
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday in the Federal Register finalized its official redesignation of all of Anderson, Knox, Blount and Loudon counties and the remaining part of Roane County as "attainment," which means the areas now meet federal particle pollution standards. These areas were the last remaining areas in Tennessee to achieve the designation.
 
 "Today, Tennessee's air is as clean as it has been since the beginning of the modern industrial era," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. "We are a state that protects the environment while growing our economy - it is not an 'either, or' scenario in Tennessee. Today's announcement is another indicator that we can achieve both."
State Reforms to Workers Comp Continue to Drive Down Claims, Rates

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that workers' compensation rates will drop again next year for most Tennessee businesses as safer work sites and non-judicial settlements of workers' comp claims continue to cut the costs of the insurance in Tennessee.
 
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) said Tuesday it is seeking a loss cost reduction of 12.6 percent for workers' compensation that will have the impact of bringing down insurance rates, effective March 1, 2018.
 
The new filing represents the seventh consecutive reduction and reflects a continuing trend of reduced workers' compensation insurance premium prices since the Tennessee General Assembly changed the state's workers 'comp rules and moved to an administrative, rather than a judicial, process of paying claims for workers who are injured on the job.
 
"We used to be ranked among some of the worst states in the country (for costs to employers), but now we're generally in the middle of the pack," said Bradley Jackson, president of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "We had a lot of businesses complaining about the costs of our former workers' comp program and threatening to move to other states. We have a safer environment and a better system today."
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Please join us for our annual Public Affairs conference and Boots n' Business reception.  These events present a special opportunity to learn about 2018 legislative issues and a night of entertainment with our reception and songwriter's session. Participants include state legislators (invited), business leaders, local chamber and economic development professionals from across Tennessee. 
*Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be provided.    

Location:
   AT&T Building
333 Commerce Street, 27th Floor 
Nashville, TN 37201

Schedule of events:
Public Affairs Conference: 12:00 - 4:45pm
Boots 'n Business Reception: 5:00pm
Songwriters Begin at 5:45pm

Fees/Admission:
$125 per person covers both events

Sponsorship Levels:
President & CEO: $5000 
Senior Vice President: $2500 
Vice President: $1500
**Contact Suzie Lusk for more information and details on sponsorship levels. 
Poll: Americans Increasingly Favor Schools that Prepare Students for the Workplace
 
The three R's alone don't cut it anymore. Americans overwhelmingly want schools to do more than educate students in academic subjects. According to the  2017 PDK Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, they also want schools to help position students for their working lives after school. That means both direct career preparation and efforts to develop students' interpersonal skills.  The survey results are based on a random sample of 1,588 adults from all 50 states who answered a telephone poll in English or Spanish in May. 

After Successes in Job-Creation, Tennessee Sees Labor Market Tightening
Along with much celebration of Tennessee's booming economy by state politicians, there is some quiet concern about a developing labor shortage - even as officials continue full-steam-ahead with efforts to create more jobs in the state while unemployment is a record low,  reports Tom Humphrey for the Knoxville News Sentinel .
 
On the boom front, the good news goes beyond a 3.4 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average, according to the Tennessee Business and Economic Indicators report in August, covering data through the second quarter of 2017.  Tennessee tax collections also continue to increase - both the franchise and excise taxes on businesses and the general sales tax - in another display of economic vitality. And so on.
 
At the same time, there is also increasing concern about the tight labor market. Beyond the record low employment rate, data indicates that the "labor force participation rate" has been growing. That means people who had decided they don't want a job, thus excluded in calculations of the unemployment rate, are deciding that they do and taking one.
 
Kent Starwalt, executive director of the Tennessee Road Builders Association, says that hiring the welders, heavy-equipment operators, formwork carpenters, iron workers, concrete finishers and construction supervisors is "a challenge to the industry" right now, according to a Tennessee Ledger article. And that comes as road builders are gearing up for lots of new work, thanks to an increase in state highway construction funding - roughly $250 million per year -- with the Legislature's approval earlier this year of an increase in fuel taxes.
 
But Starwalt also thinks that the industry can meet that challenge. The construction industry has launched programs to recruit and train workers. For that matter, so has state government.
 
According to a report from Chemical and Engineering News (9/4), the Environmental Protection Agency's 70-parts-per-billion standard for allowable ozone, which will take effect Oct. 1, could limit US manufacturing growth by creating two sets of rules for facilities, says Brendan Mascarenhas of the American Chemistry Council. "Air quality has been continuously improving, and further progress was likely if the 75 ppb standard had been kept in place," he says.
NAM Chairman: It's Time for Tax Reform'
 
Fortune.com reports that David Farr, CEO of Emerson Electric and also the chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, is "a big advocate for tax reform and he's lobbying hard for it."  Fortune wrote that Farr is "very optimistic that Congress will approve a tax reform plan over the next three months," and that Farr favors reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%.  Fortune quoted Farr saying, "the time is right" for fundamental tax reform.

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TN Chamber Urges Employee Engagement: Online TN Voter Registration System Announced
 
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is proud to officially launch the state's new online voter registration system.
 
The system offers a convenient way for voters to easily register or change their address if they have moved. Counties across Tennessee can now securely receive voter registration information faster than using traditional paper registrations.
 
"This system meets people where they already are: online. It will improve accuracy and efficiency for voters and election officials by ensuring there are fewer errors and more accurate voter rolls. I would like to thank Sen. Yager and Rep. McCormick for their leadership in making this system a reality for Tennesseans," Secretary Hargett said.
 
The new system will allow U.S. citizens with a driver's license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to register to vote online. Each online submission is checked against the department's database while securely obtaining an electronic signature already on file with the state.
 
"In Tennessee, many of our hardworking men and women exercise their right to vote during each election cycle, and they take this responsibility very seriously," said Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga). "I urge our citizens who have not registered to vote to do so online. The process is quick and easy and can be completed from the comfort of home. Registering to vote is an important step for citizens across our state to have their voices heard during the upcoming election in 2018."

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) affiliate university partner, just completed its ninth summer of running PLTW's Core  Training professional development program for teachers across the United States. Over the course of 10 days of training, UTC hosted nearly 50 teachers who were excited to learn new curriculum and skills to engage and inspire their students in the STEM subjects. During the PLTW Launch (elementary school) training, teachers took on the role of their students, trying their hands at creating simple and complex machines, which they then showed off to UTC professors and deans. Their designs were creative and innovative, all focused on solving simple problems. On graduation day, teachers took home their certificates of completion, along with an eagerness to share their experiences with their colleagues and begin engaging and empowering their students.
 
To get involved with PLTW in Tennessee, through advocacy or by bringing PLTW to your school or district, please email UTC Affiliate Director James Kurtz at james-kurtz@utc.edu. You can also follow PLTW on Twitter and Facebook.